Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 233

Monday 20th August 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.15. I went to Doug’s but he was out so I came back and just lazed about till dinner at 12.00. After dinner I rang Doug but he was still out so I walked the dogs round the field.

At 2.00, when I came back, Doug and Huggy came and we went to the little BMX track and did some stunts, then we went to the big track but Doug cut his knee. So we came back, had a drink, fixed Doug up and then went back to the little track and did some more stunts.

We came back at 5.00 and had a drink, then Doug and Huggy went home and I had tea. After tea I went upstairs and started a Tardis log, then at 6.45 I watched Star Trek. At 7.35 I watched Only Fools and Horses, and at 8.05 I went outside. Went to bed at 9.00.

At last! A proper summer’s day. A bona fide pavement-cracking, sweaty-trousered, gasping-for-orange-squash afternoon with a sun the size of a hot air balloon in a luminous blue sky, and zillions of tiny black harvest flies dotted all over the sticky new paintwork on the kitchen radiator.

1_Doug 1
So hot, in fact, that the first thing you want to do when you wake up is ring your best mate and make the most of your endless childhood. And yet, when Doug and Paul ‘Huggy’ Huggins finally showed up at 2pm, I was so exausted from my sticky, lumbering two-hour walk around the barley field that I barely had the energy to (guffaw) mount my Raleigh Chopper. Still, when duty calls…

Wed Pond Huggy
The BMX tracks were hooky, bootleg affairs, carved into private woodland by local kids far cheekier than us. Here’s the film I made at the ‘little BMX track’ (and yes, it’s still there! Just about…)

You’ll notice I’m suitably vague about the ‘stunts’ that we performed. As far as I can remember, our repertoire consisted entirely of…

1. Pulling a Wheelie: The traditional ‘lift the front wheel off the ground and cycle along on the back wheel only’ trick, as perfected by most Teesside kids years before anyone had even heard of BMX. (Although I think this might have been the day when Doug and his sister had spent the morning in Stockton’s Odeon watching the legendary ‘BMX Bandits’ film…! I was insanely miffed that I hadn’t been invited along, until I realised that the cinema interior must have been the temperature of Redcar blast furnace, with melted King Cones splattered all over the floor)

The more eagle-eyed of you may notice a certain future Hollywood leading lady in the above clip!

2. The Bunny Hop: Stand up on your pedals in a stationary position, and make your entire bike leap a couple of inches off the ground before crashing back to Earth with a shattering crunch.  (Pretty much impossibly to perfect, I should add, on a Raleigh Chopper that weighs only slightly less than the HMS Hermes)

3. A kind of clumsy, all-purpose, flying-off-the-end-of a ramp leap. In a nutshell – pedal like buggery up a plank resting on the edge of a fallen log and fly over a bank of nettles (whistling the music from ET for bonus points) before pulling a wheelie to celebrate and then collapsing into a heap and dragging any bodily extremities along the floor, leaving a small trail of skin on the ground in your wake.

It was this third impressive stunt that left poor Doug lying in a heap in the middle of the ‘big track’ (in a full-on ‘Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted’ wood on British Gas property) with blood pouring from a rip in his Debenham’s jeans. Huggy and I helped him over the fence (complete with scary ‘KEEP OUT’ sign painted in the blood of previous hapless youths) and escorted him back my house where he was ‘fixed up’ with the aid of Savlon, elastoplast and gales of howling laughter.

Amazingly, despite having spent 36 years as one of the most hapless, clumsy, un-coordinated buggers on the planet, I’ve yet to suffer a single broken bone, and have never required stitches in any of the wounds acquired during these regular demonstrations of hapless buffoonery. In the mid 1990s, I was told by an elderly visitor to my record shop that I was ‘being watched over by your mother’s father… his spirit is with you always and he’ll never let you come to harm…’

My mother’s father died the year before I was born, and was a very respected tailor from Stockton, so you’d think he’d have better things to do with his afterlife than keep his idiot grandson out of the A&E department. But I’d like to publicly thank him for his efforts, and state for the record that, to date, he’s clearly made a bloody good fist of it. Now watch me get run over by a taxi on the way into work tonight.

NB The above film is not, repeat not, footage of Middlesbrough town centre.

And, after a full day of healthy, sun-baked outdoor activity, it’s good to see me coming back inside for the evening and launching myself into possibly THE GEEKIEST THING I’VE EVER DONE (and let’s face it, there’s some stiff competition). My ‘Tardis log’ was, essentially, my interpretation of what Doctor Who’s diary might look like. Beginning with Episode 1 of ‘An Unearthly Child’ and going all the way through into… well, Episode 4 of ‘An Unearthly Child’ before I got bored and came downstairs to watch Star Trek. 

Time Lord traitor that I am.




  Chris Orton wrote @

Did you never do an “Endo” on your BMX Bob? This required a kerbstone. What you had to do was ride your bike up to the kerb at 90° to it. When your front wheel bounced into the kerb you had to try to get your back wheel to lift off the ground as high as you could, risking being tipped over your handlebars in the process.

Just me then…

  Chris Byers wrote @

What a fantastic idea for a TV show, a remake of Taxi set in Middlesbrough. I can just see the opening titles, a taxi cab driving over the Newport bridge heading for Whinney Banks. Maybe you Bob could play the part of Louie.

  bobfischer wrote @

Chris – I never had a BMX! Hilariously, I used to attempt all of these ludicrous stunts on my six-tonne Raleigh Chopper while Doug and Huggy flew around me on their Diamond Backs. I can remember the Endo now you mention it though, along with another long-forgotten BMX word that sprang into my head two minutes ago – a ‘berm’… a very sharp turn on a bit of a slope? I remember whoever built the dodgy DIY tracks at Kirklevington had constructed a few of them, all cruelly placed within falling distance of huge patches of nettles.

And Chris – you can have Louie, I want to play Latka. 🙂

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